CommunityWilliam J. Ford

Merchants, Advocates Seek to Educate Public on Medicinal Cannabis

ANNAPOLIS — Llauris Rener recalled when he took daily prescribed medication such as Percocet to relieve stomach pain, but he began to develop a tolerance and felt no relief.

Rener decided to try a soda with CBG, an oil extracted from hemp plants, produced by Cannabinoid Creations. His favorite flavor: grape.

“I took five sips and felt great,” said Rener, creative director of 710Squared in Largo. “This thing works. It changed my life.”

Members of The Cannabis Patient Advocacy Association host a Legislative Education Day in Annapolis on Feb. 6. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Members of The Cannabis Patient Advocacy Association host a Legislative Education Day in Annapolis on Feb. 6. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Rener, whose eight-employee company conducts research and teaches small and minority-owned businesses how to brand their products, participated Thursday in Legislative Education Day in Annapolis.

His company and others are members of The Cannabis Patient Advocacy Association, which launched in November to not only inform lawmakers on the healthy aspects of medicinal cannabis, but also tell visitors to the state capitol about proposed legislation slated for the 90-day session.

Several bills include requiring the state Department of Housing and Community Development to administer a fund for small, minority- and women-owned medicinal cannabis businesses.

According to the legislation sponsored by Del. Nick Mosby (D-Baltimore City) and supported by the Legislative Black Caucus, creation of a Medical Cannabis Business Development Fund would provide entrepreneurs grants or financial assistance who seek a license and plan to open as a grower, processor or dispensary.

The department would issue a report to the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission and Maryland General Assembly by Jan. 15 of each year on the number of grants and other financial packages awarded during the preceding year.

Hope Wiseman said a grant award for her dispensary Mary & Main in Capitol Heights would provide discounts for low-income patients to purchase medicine, a medical card and subsidize the cost of her company’s medicine.

Her dispensary and its 15 or so mostly part-time employees currently has about 800 patients, mainly from Prince George’s County, who visit her business monthly. For more than a year, more than 3,000 patients throughout the state and D.C. area have registered through her dispensary.

“A grant like that would allow us to provide discounts for low-income patients and patients with chronic and sometimes fatal illnesses,” she said. “There aren’t dispensaries in every corner, so a grant like this would be beneficial.”

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Feb.19 before the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

The advocacy association distributed a 12-page document on various cannabinoids and the medical benefits of terpenes, organic compounds that give aroma and flavor in plants and fruit.

The group also offered a breakdown of the nearly 88,600 certified patients in several counties and Baltimore City.

As of September, Baltimore County saw the largest number of patients at 21,000. Montgomery County came in second at 18,165, Anne Arundel County registered third at 13,054, and Baltimore City followed with approximately 12,413.

Prince George’s County came in fifth with nearly 10,200 patients.

The qualifications for a medicinal cannabis patient diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition would include anorexia, severe nausea, seizures and glaucoma.

A possibly contested bill from some parents and school officials could come from Sen. Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery County) for public school nurses to administer medicinal cannabis for students during school hours and school-sponsored after-school activities.

The medical cannabis commission and state Department of Education would organize regulations on safety protocol, a nurse’s assessment and other guidelines. The proposed legislation could be heard by the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Rita Montoya, executive director of the advocacy group, said local school officials would have to abide by whatever the state legislature approves.

“That doesn’t mean there won’t be some school boards that may say, ‘we know it’s required but we’re not doing that,'” she said. “That’s when we anticipate the real work begins to make sure these children and families have the access they need.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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